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How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

SEO

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When a potential customer searches on Google for a topic relevant to your company, you want your website to appear near the top of the results if you have any hope of winning their business.

The steps you take when performing search engine optimization (SEO) are all about improving your website’s status on search engines so you get more traffic for important key searches.

SEO Should be Part of a Broader Strategy

SEO is just one mode of attack you should employ to improve your online profile and ultimately make more sales. You’ll also want to consider other digital marketing channels like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing (SMM).

When it comes to the common question: How Long Does SEO Take to Work, you need to understand that SEO takes longer than PPC to have an effect. But where PPC can only give you a short-term boost in traffic while you pay advertising fees, SEO instead offers you long-term, natural traffic. Once you’ve built up a well-performing website through solid SEO, you can reap the benefits well into the future.

Expected Average Timescales

Instead of thinking of it as a one-time deal, you need to see SEO as a continuous investment that requires ongoing time and planning.

Still, we’re often asked how long SEO takes to have an effect. SEO can have an effect in as little as two weeks, but to really see the benefits of SEO, you need to be in it for the long run. A fully fledged SEO strategy will show its real power in around six months, on average.  

There are a lot of things at play that will affect how long SEO will take to work for you. A lot comes down to the industry you’re working in and how established your website is within that niche. A new site entering a market that is going up against strong, authoritative competitor sites will have an uphill struggle.

How to Speed Up SEO

Let’s look at some of the most important factors that affect the efficiency of SEO and potential ways to speed up your SEO efforts.

SEO-friendly Website Design

Search engines need to be able to crawl your site’s pages, so correct URL structures, sitemaps, and metatags are important. But you need to do much more than that. With so many people accessing sites using mobile devices, search engines now strongly prefer websites that offer a great experience for mobile users.

You can create a separate site that works well on small screens, but it’s often easier to use a responsive design. Responsive design means there is only one website, but it looks different depending on the user’s screen. Most content management systems (CMS) and top website builders are moving to responsive design, as it makes ongoing updates and maintenance easier.

Not only will this result in a better experience for your users, but it’ll see your website placed higher in search engine results.

Fix Common Site Issues

For a surprising number of existing websites, the fastest way to rise in search engine rankings is to fix the mistakes of the past. If you have missing pages, extensive 301 redirects, old sitemaps, or broken HTML, you’ll be penalised. It doesn’t take long to fix these issues, and the results can be almost instantaneous.

Similarly, search engines take note if your website hosting is slow or is often unavailable. They don’t want to send people to websites where they’ll have a bad experience. Evaluate your current hosting and decide whether you could do better elsewhere.

Keyword and Competitor Analysis

It’s important to know the key search phrases you’d like to rank for on search engines so you can focus on them. One of the best ways to do this is to analyse your competitors.

SEO research tools can show you the key phrases your competitors are ranking for, their traffic numbers, the advertising they’re paying for, and where they’re getting their traffic from.

Armed with this information, you can see what seems to be working for them and attempt to emulate it. But consider what they might be doing wrong, too! The right analysis can show you where your competition is weak and where you might find a gap in the market.

On-Page SEO

Now you know what you want to rank for, you can make some subtle changes to your current content. Ensure that the key phrases you’re targeting appear in meta tags, alt tags, titles, descriptions, and text.

Note: Write with human readers in mind at all times. A few key phrases peppered here and there go a long way, so there’s no need to go overboard. If the content on your pages seems unnatural to you because of keyword stuffing, then it probably needs to be rewritten.

Content Strategy

You need great content on your website for people to want to visit it. That’s obvious. The interesting thing is that when you add great content to your site causing more people to visit, search engines can track this. They see that people have been enjoying your content and subsequently increase your search engine rankings. This means even more people see it, and the cycle continues.

But the content you post on your site should always be relevant to your business website’s purpose. Search engines look at websites not just as a bunch of pages, but as a whole. A solid content strategy that supports the keyword and competitor research you’ve performed is a requirement for great SEO results.

Off-Site SEO

Finally, and arguably most importantly, you must consider off-site SEO efforts. The number of links to your site from authoritative, relevant websites remains one of the most important factors in where you rank in search engine results.

Besides link building, social media marketing can be used to encourage audience engagement and cross-promote content you’ve created. Search engines also use this data to measure your site’s relevance to particular audiences.

Once you’ve built an extensive backlink profile, it's very difficult for a new competitor to challenge your position, as it will take them months or years to build up the same level of presence online.

How Long Does SEO Take to Work - Conclusion

SEO is a fantastic way to grow your business online, but you must use it as part of a complete marketing strategy. It takes longer than some of your other marketing options and usually takes around six months to have a noticeable effect on website traffic and sales. Consider SEO a long-term, ongoing process, and you’ll find it an indispensable tool for boosting your website’s standing on search engines.

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